City Changer Cargo Bike. Transforming a Lot
Organisation : Forschungsgesellschaft Mobilitaet - Austrian Mobility Research FGM - AMOR , Austria

Within the project, the limitless potential of cargo bikes promoting their usage amongst public, private, and commercial users will be exploited. Supported by the Horizon 2020 programme, City Changer Cargo Bike (CCCB) brings together 20 partners in the quest to achieve a faster, more cost-effective and larger-scale deployment of this sustainable mobility option. Assessing best practices across Europe, CCCB will raise awareness and support the uptake of cargo bikes and cargo bike initiatives. In doing so, the project will foster exciting developments that offer more sustainable logistics operations, improve public spaces, engage citizens, reduce traffic congestion and promote local start-ups.

Agendas addressed
DecarbonisationUrban mobilityClimate change
Public spaceSocial inclusion and integration
Pathways followed
  • Encourage local private and civic engagement
  • Promote social innovation supporting inclusion
  • Create and close local value chains
  • Apply innovative financing approaches
  • Implement sustainable procurement principles
  • Accelerate sustainability and innovation through public procurement
bergschaf/ Without transforming parking lots kids only can use the space inside a parked car (Graz)

The public space in Graz (Austria) has great potential for more communication, design and urban life. Unfortunately, the potential is blocked using public space as a machine depot. In Graz, there are about 60 000 parking spaces for cars, very often in popular locations. They are a very valuable resource. However, politicians and decision-makers have mostly lost the imagination for an alternative use of road space. This makes it difficult to implement modern urban development concepts that are intended to bring a turnaround in mobility and make public spaces more people- and child-friendly. The adherence to the privilege of using public space by machines already has chronic features. The city has fallen ill with too much car traffic and therefore creative treatments are needed. Targeted interventions in the right places - similar to acupuncture - could contribute to the healing and revitalisation of the urban organism.

In Action
FGM/ First contact of the parking space transformers with locals (Graz)

The main strategy for activities was to transform car parking spaces into spaces for stay, communication and relaxation by using mobile tools. After the first try with a specially constructed wooden vehicle in the shape of a car ("Parkraumwunder"), the approach was adapted into the development and implementation of cargo bikes equal in size to a parking lot. The tool contributes to the improvement of public space to create enjoyable and vibrant environments and opens the eyes of citizens to alternative mobility modes, accessibility of public spaces and well-being opportunities in neighbourhoods.

The “parking space transformers” were built on the frame of back wheel steered 3-wheel cargo bikes. Their specific construction enables easy parking in small parking lots. The steel structure is supplemented by panels, as used in stage construction, and flap elements for backrests. The joining of 2 parking space transformers creates an even larger area for alternative use. A total of six are currently in use.

The strength of the project only emerged through the integration of a broad range and variety of stakeholders. An industrial designer, traffic engineers and children's associations were involved in the design process. The research company FGM-AMOR (Austrian Mobility Research) tested and implemented the measure with local businesses, neighbourhood organisations as well as cultural associations and social and environmental NGOs. Local politicians like the head of district and the department of economy and tourism opened the doors for the implementation and the University of Graz supported the monitoring and evaluation. The neighbourhood association Lendwirbel was one of the active contributors and promoters of the parking transformers.

Since it is a mobile tool, it can be used in different places in the city. By moving the "parking space transformers" to multiple locations in Graz it was possible to raise awareness among a large audience.

FGM/ Adaption with cushions and sunshades for a neighbourhood event (Graz)

The bike-based space transformers were well received by the target group. Thus, the tool proved its ability to reduce speed and stress in the use of public space. The bike-based space transformers are a platform to offer a welcoming public space for everyone as it is accessible and free. They are a great way to improve community interactions and to reduce the space used by parked cars, which enhances the attractiveness and opportunities for walking and cycling in the area. By making the environment more attractive, a stronger social cohesion and more opportunities for communication in public space are created. Even if the intervention is only in the early implementation phase, it offers citizens an opportunity to make sustainable use of their neighbourhood based on a "bottom-up" process. Subsequently, the approach should also contribute to softening the borders to the administration and to strive for increased implementation of activities that involve civic engagement.

Key achievements:
• The positive reception from the neighbours: 63% of those present responded in a positive way to the new offer at the parking lot.
• The average time people spend on the local street increased. The number of people stopping or showing interest in the activities increased.
• The average stay of those who actively used it was between 30-40 minutes. Children used it more intensively than adults.
• The number of people stopping or showing interest in the activities increased.


The bike-based space transformers offer the city of Graz the opportunity to re-think the use of public space, reducing privileges for motorized vehicles and offering the citizens new possibilities to relax, linger, enjoy and socialize.

These transformers can adapt to the diverse needs and desires of the citizens and neighbourhoods. By adding and combining different elements the transformers can serve as seating opportunities with (sun)umbrellas to enjoy a coffee; provide play areas for children; be decorated with flowers and trees in urban gardening projects; or provide a stage for concerts or poetry slams.

Everything is possible!

The expected impact of the bike-based space transformers (at the moment, there are 6 in use) are:

• To improve the environmental friendliness of the city: due to a reduction in the number of motorized vehicles, a reduction of emissions and noise are expected. (Measure by direct observation and noise and emissions levels measurement).
• To increase public space usage: a minimum of 80% of the target group will be satisfied. An increase in the perception of the street to good or very good. Increase of the average of time spent on the area. (Measure with a pedestrian survey).
• To raise awareness: 4 workshops/webinars will be held with multipliers like bicycle retailers, kindergartens, etc. In total 100 participants will be reach and 95% of satisfaction rate. (Measure by the number of participants involved and with a satisfaction survey).
• To improve economic efficiency: the increase in street activity and people´s perception of attractivity of the area will improve the commercial attractiveness. (Measure by a business survey).

Challenges and lessons learned

Probably the biggest hurdle of the transformative action was the legally compliant implementation of the idea. FGM-AMOR has already tried to give back parking spaces to people in the past. The "Parkraumwunder", a hand-drawn wooden car, was towed away by the authority due to non-conformity with the Austrian road code. However, according to a legal consultation it turns out that bikes are a good alternative and comply to the road code. A clear lesson learnt from the project so far: sometimes thinking outside the box is necessary to initiate innovative and creative thinking processes among the population and decision-makers.



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